As secretary for work and pensions, Iain Duncan Smith is the driving force behind the cuts in certain benefits, which will affect thousands of people. This means deciding which groups of people will receive less or in some cases no benefits at all, in an attempt to lower the welfare bill.
For those struggling to feed themselves and their families, pay bills, find employment where there are few opportunities or provide support for themselves or family members in the cases of those who are sick or disabled, the cuts are proving difficult for them to deal with.
Those who support the cuts argue that they are necessary. However, looking at expenses claimed by Iain Duncan Smith over recent years, it's understandable that people may feel angry, when they are suffering the brunt of the cuts.
Some travel expenses listed on ISPA (independent parliamentary standards authority) are confusing. IDS appears to claim travel expenses for traveling from Pimlico to Chingford for a meeting, using his own car. He claims for this as a two hundred and ninety two mile journey costing £131.40. Only a month earlier he had claimed for the same journey, also to a meeting. On that occasion he stated it was one hundred and eight miles costing £75.60. A simple online search shows the distance to be under twenty two miles one way, meaning a return journey would fall under forty four miles. ISPA lists many other travel expenses along these lines, all with varying costs and mileage.
In addition to the travel expenses, other questionable expenses which IDS claimed and was successfully reimbursed for include £20.28 for tea towels, £100 for flash all-purpose wipes, £197.60 for what appears to be his subscription to The Guardian and £125 for a copy of the 2011 edition of Who's who. This may be because IDS featured in that particular edition, which according to Amazon is, "a respected and renowned sourcebook of people of influence and interest." What is not clear is the reason why the taxpayer had to cover the cost of paying for his copy. There are many more questionable expenses listed on ISPA, but it would take to long to mention them all.
These expenses may not seem too over the top for an MP's expenses, but for a man who in 2013 claimed he could survive on £53 a week, it may appear to those struggling on the very benefits IDS plans to cut, that they are being mocked. Without including the exaggerated travel claims, just the cost of the expenses mentioned above total £442.88. This would cover the rent of a reasonably priced house outside of London for a small family for one month. With the benefit cuts threatening to put more people on the streets, some might argue that surely this would be a better use of the money.
It's important to remember that IDS is not the only MP to impose extra expenses onto the taxpayer, some of which could easily be paid for out of their wages, if not directly related to work. All these expenses quickly add up. It's quite easy to understand the reaction of those affected by cuts in their own money as they struggle to survive, feeling that they are being wrongly targeted, while cuts could perhaps start with the richest and most powerful at the top, rather than with those who are the most vulnerable. #Government #Parliament #Tax